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Aspects of Jewish Society The Priesthood and other Classes

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Chapter Summary

In the period of Hellenistic rule over Syria and Palestine, in the third and second centuries B.C.E., Jewish society continued to be organized along the lines established after the return from Babylon under the Persian Empire. The moderate Hellenizers of the upper classes offered their energies, their talents and their experience in public affairs to serve the Hasmonaeans. The great achievement of the Hasmonaean revolt was the survival of the Jewish nation and religion. In the Herodian period, certain transformations took place within Jewish society no less far-reaching than those after the Hasmonaean revolt. The priesthood constituted the upper stratum of Jewish society in the Second Temple period. It was a kind of Jewish nobility. The Levites continued to exist as a separate entity throughout the Second Temple period but their place in Jewish society is secondary to that of the priests.

Keywords: Babylon; Hasmonaean revolt; Hellenistic rule; Jewish society; Levites; Palestine; Persian Empire; priesthood; Syria

10.1163/9789004275096_002
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